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Entrepreneurial house party: High Caliber Karting and Entertainment

“Prior to SIG, I had ideas about what I wanted to do, and thought they might be possible,” says Jordan Munsters of High Caliber Karting and Entertainment. “Yet now I am certain with the direction of the company — and how we’re going to do it.”

After a decade of automotive management and rising through the ranks at Bridgestone, in 2019 Jordan Munsters decided to take his passion for throwing parties into the professional arena and opened High Caliber Karting and Entertainment in Okemos, Michigan. In addition to high-speed go-karting, the company offers axe throwing, rage rooms, archery tag and other creative ways to let off steam. Despite shutting down for nine months during the pandemic, High Caliber has not only survived but thrived, with plans to open a second location in 2024.

Reflective of its name, High Caliber has won more than a dozen awards including being named a 2022 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch honoree.

The CTW recognition has benefited High Caliber externally and internally. “You get a ton of media coverage that you couldn’t pay for,” Munsters says. “For employees, it validates that, rather than drinking our own Kool-Aid, we really know what we’re doing. The award is also aspirational and gives our team members an understanding they need to continuously pursue high quality.”

Becoming a CTW awardee also introduced Munsters to Edward Lowe Foundation programs, which are co-funded in Michigan through a partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. In August 2022, Munsters attended his first leadership retreat at Big Rock Valley, the foundation’s 2,000-acre learning campus in southwest Michigan.

At the retreat, Munsters learned more about what to expect as a second-stage business owner. “The foundation has actually graphed this stage of business, which was huge for me as I had no clue what was next,” he says.

The foundation’s retreats tie together critical components — relevant resources, structure and a unique sense of place — that enable business owners to be more productive at working on business strategy. “I could go to northern Michigan and rent a cabin, but then I’m only accountable to myself,” he explains. “Yet at Big Rock Valley, I have a level of personal commitment with the other people who are in the room to think about strategy.”

After the CTW retreat, Munsters participated in a series of monthly PeerSpectives roundtables with other members of his retreat cohort. Although no stranger to CEO discussion groups, Munsters says PeerSpectives roundtables are different: “No one feels responsible to do business with one another,” he says. “We respect that this is not the place for sales pitches. We stayed focused on discussing issues and situations seeking alternative perspectives and experience. Even a field as unrelated to entertainment as the medical field has brought me insights I could use at High Caliber.”

Munsters also participated in the System for Integrated Growth (SIG), which enables business owners to work with a team of experts on specific challenges. “The SIG engagement is probably the most impactful thing my company has ever experienced,” he says.

During the engagement, Munsters worked with SIG specialists on three issues:

  • 1. Clearly defining High Caliber’s customers.
  • 2. Identifying the best markets for expansion. (Munsters aims to have 25 High Caliber locations up and running by 2035.)
  • 3. Developing a strategy for acquisition and succession. (Munsters has a separate company, Combat Karting, which has developed a system for “gamified karting,” with proprietary technology that enables players to slow down karts of opponents.)

As a result of his SIG engagement, Munsters has transitioned from hazy ambitions to a crystal-clear vision. “Prior to SIG, I had ideas about what I wanted to do, and thought they might be possible,” he says. “Yet now I am certain with the direction of the company — and how we’re going to do it.”

Munsters also credits his SIG team leader for providing above-and-beyond support. “I was going through a stressful time, but wasn’t sure what the problem was,” he says. “During a check-in call, my team leader picked up on my mood. We talked for a while, and he pointed out that I was trying to do my operation director’s job because I like that work more. He then asked me, ‘Do you want to do his job — or to grow the company? Because you need to make that decision.’ And he was right!”

“I’m a huge supporter of the Edward Lowe Foundation,” Munsters adds. “I had high expectations going into these programs, and they were exceeded. Let’s say you were looking for a personal trainer…You could find some 21-year-old who went through some online classes, or you could get the guy who trained Michael Jordan. I put the foundation up there with the guy who trained Michael Jordan.”